The death mother is an archetypal energy coined first by Jungian analyst Marie Louise von Franz, then elaborated on by Marion Woodman. This energy is so, so very much alive today in this domination heavy culture, as well as in our own bodies.
This energy gets conflated with the darker aspects of the divine feminine and they are not the same thing. Not even in the slightest.
In order to begin to truly liberate the feminine archetypal energies and heal the masculine archetypal energies as well, we must understand the difference and how the death mother rules our unconscious realms.
The death mother is the dark side of the mother, the shadow side that no one talks about. The cold mother. The resentful mother. The mother that didn’t want to have children. The mother who was not mothered herself. The addicted mother. The depressed/anxious mother. The rejecting or abandoning mother. The intruding mother.
The one who did not nurture or nourish or celebrate or love the way we are trained to think mothers are supposed to be. So much so that we think it’s our fault if this was our mother or that we are not worthy of love because she didn’t know what love was.
This enters our hearts in such a deep way that when we have the impulse towards creativity, new endeavors, life transitions, more soul and life affirming expansion, she enters and pulls us back in.
This is addiction and food issues. A search for a nurturing, soothing energy and returning to what we know..the death mother.
In a trauma culture it’s incredibly important to become aware of ways that we make the aftermath of symptoms of trauma wrong. It is not true that the universe only gives us what we can handle. If that were true, trauma woudn’t even be a thing since the very definition of trauma is an experience that is too much for the system to handle, metabolize or make sense of whether it is physical, sexual, emotional or spiritual. (Note that most physical and sexual trauma also involves emotional and spiritual dimensions).
Indifference to the truth creates complacency and shaming of trauma survivors, people suffering with symptoms of trauma like addictions, anxiety, eating disorders or depression. Isolation. We are wired with needs that need to be met by others. If we start to program this out of us, it is supporting trauma at its core. We aren’t supposed to get used to not needing anything from others.
People are not addicted to their trauma. Nervous systems wired via fear because environments were not safe run on adrenaline, which creates a deep feedback loop. There is a deep disconnect to one’s own vital life force energy. It’s not just physical. It’s also emotional, spiritual and impacts the quality of consciousness through which life is perceived.
Awakening out this trauma trance can be quite intense as our whole inner (and outer) world must shift. We must learn that safety and joy are okay, that our own energy is safe because trauma at its most basic level impacts the very way we experience life. That it’s safe to be here in a real way, rather than the mind yelling at the inner one trying to convince it is safe when it doesn’t even know what safe feels like.
Grief is not the same as depression.
Grief is very human and natural. It is the heart’s response to the ever shifting tides of change and movement and rhythms of all things life. It is life force energy moving through as love breaking the heart open, longing to keep the heart open. Making more space for more love and more joy....the more love and joy and pleasure, the more grief, the more we expand into the infinite cycles that exist at the very core of who we are.
Depression is stuck grief.
It is life force energy stuck in the heart, the nervous system and the body. It is literally the oppression of the soul, the pushing down and away the tides of life. It is solidified fear.
It manifests as shame or anxiety sometimes or anger or deep, deep sadness and mistrusting life. The sparkle is gone because it is stuck. All the grief gets turned inwards on the self.
We are not static creatures.
This culture conditions us to be afraid of change.
To be afraid of change is to be afraid of grief.
Fear of the natural cycles of life.
Fear of death and the deep feeling that comes with transformation.
Fear of life changing if we change.
So, these fears can crystallize in our heart space and shut us down.
Let us replace the word “toxic” in our cultural lexicon in reference to the human condition; our collective struggle through layers of suffering. It’s pathologizing. It is psychologically othering in terms of projecting unwanted qualities and experiences outside of ourselves, onto others that we then need to then stay away from.
No one wants to identify with being a toxic person or feel like they have toxicity living inside of them. It’s a substance we want to rid ourselves of immediately in order to not suffer the consequences of being poisonous.
This kind of thinking and labeling is part of how we get addicted to “clearing” out negative energy or thinking anything “negative” or uncomfortable we feel is because of someone else. It is what makes us scared of ourselves, unable to be present or intimate with our own depths.
In your wholeness, you are everything.
You are light and love and darkness and hate. You are anger and rage and the utmost compassion and radiance imaginable.
We are also wounded humans living in a world that not only perpetuates wounding but profits off it. Our culture is not literate in the language of the soul or pain or grief.
So, we other it, project it out into others and make them “toxic” or people that do not serve our highest good. It perpetuates this idea that we are somehow untarnished and other people are the problem. Sometimes it is our very wounding that seeks out people who make us uncomfortable in order to try to get our attention for healing.
What if we replaced this word “toxic” with the word wounded?
Grief is far from one tone. It is as layered, nuanced and complex as our human experience.
We love deeply. Part of the loving is in the inevitable letting go of what we have loved. Letting the love morph, take a different shape that is sometime no shape at all. That’s the part that hurts. That’s the part that makes us afraid to love again.
Grief is love.
It is the power of life and love and spirit urging you to keep your heart open, to keep loving and expanding, including even the lost bits in your mourning. Because, in every mourning, many of the ungrieved pieces arrive to see if your heart will stay open as a way of staking it’s claim on your wholeness.
Grieve what and who and and how something has been lost. Know that some endings are traumatic; deepening the grief with questions the mind wants answered. Let your heart speak to your mind, to let the mind know that now the heart takes over.
Your heart is wise and strong and knows what to do. For its strength is in how deeply you love. This grief is a last act of loving what has been. This last act will change you. Do not let your mind interfere with figuring out facts and figures, next steps or moves to take.
Grieve your relationship to what’s been lost. Our life is a living breathing relationship. Inside and out. Our engagement with life creates these third parties...relationships; the containers in which we whisper and exchange, connect and disconnect, laugh and cry, find exiled parts or birth ourselves into new ways of being.